Guide – Tulum Guide

Thank You For Choosing Tulumfor your Adventure.

About Tulum

Tulum Pueblo is the largest community in the municipality of Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is located on the Caribbean coast of the state, near the site of the archaeological ruins of Tulum. The community had a 2010 census population of 18,233 inhabitants.

Emergency Number 911

The Emergency Number in Tulum is 911 as of October 2016.

Tulum Time Zone

As of February 1, 2015 Tulum is on South East Time Zone -Eastern Standard Time (EST) (-05:00 hours) Permanently with no Daylight Savings (Horario de Verano) Change. This means That Tulum (Quintana Roo State) is on the same time as Mexico City during “daylight savings tme” -April through October- and ONE HOUR AHEAD of Mexico City Time the rest of the year from October through March.

In a nutshell, Mexico uses four time zones.image

Zona Sureste (Southeast Zone) covers the state of Quintana Roo -Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Riviera Maya, Mahahual, Costa Maya, Bacalar and Chetumal. (the equivalent of Canadian and U.S. Eastern Time).
Zona Centro (Central Zone) covers the eastern three-fourths of Mexico, including Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey (the equivalent of Canadian and U.S. Central Time).
Zona Pacífico (Pacific Zone) covers the states of Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Nayarit, Sinaloa, and Sonora (the equivalent of Canadian and U.S. Mountain Time).
Zona Noroeste (Northwest Zone) covers the state of Baja California, including Tijuana (the equivalent of Canadian and U.S. Pacific Time).

Three Tulums

What most folks really need to know, and only manage to figure out once here, is the fact that there are really three different areas all referred to as Tulum only minutes away from each other, not close enough though to walk to and from.

1 Tulum Pueblo, The Town

Tulum Pueblo sits split by highway 307 running South-North. “El Pueblo”, as referred to by locals, is home to most workers of the tourist industry and where many of the stores, supermarkets, two bus stations, inns, hostels and small hotels are found. This section of town has a definite feel of existing mostly to cater to the Tulum ruins. Tulum pueblo is indeed a destination for shopping, great restaurants, a modest night life, studying the language, booking tours, banking, shopping for food, local vegetables, fruits, cafes, and local flavor. Do not miss it.

2 Tulum Playa, The Beach Zone

Tulum Playa nests along the coastline that leads into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere [Ecological Reserve], the Caribbean white sandy beaches to the east, an impressive mangrove & wetland reserve to the south. Tulum Playa embraces many of the fancier, ecological, boutique and spa hotels, and it has a decent selection of restaurants and night spots. There are also a number of affordable beach front cabana-type lodging locations.

The hotels in Tulum aim to keep Tulum as it is and stop the ecological problems that have already taken hold in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

There are now more and more restaurant options on the beach road, both on the jungle side and the ocean front. Generally these are comparatively more expensive than the options in El Pueblo.

Taxis have a near monopoly on transport to and from the playa. Buses come from time to time, but biking can also get you where you need to go.

The beach area hotel zone sees considerable trade in and use of illicit substances. Keep in mind that for some visitors this is the area’s main attraction, so if you choose to attend a bonfire or rumba party use common sense. The street running parallel to the coast where most of the cabanas are is unlit and curvy. Exercise extra caution after dark. There are no sidewalks.

3 Tulum Ruinas, The Archaeological Zone (Ruins) of Tulum

Tulum Ruinas is the archaeological site where the Maya ruins of Tulum. It is conformed by a-mile-long road leading into the ruins from highway 307. The road is flanked by several restaurants, a commercial area geared to one-day visitors, a huge parking lot, a small bus station that operates part-time and a handful of middle range hotels.

More About Tulum

As recently as the early 1990s Tulum Pueblo was a quiet village 2 km (1.5 mi) from the archaeological site, and tourism outside of the ruins was limited to a few small shops and simple cabanas on the beach. As of the 2010 census, population of Tulum Pueblo has grown to 18,233 permanent inhabitants with the addition of a number of residential developments in the jungle areas nearest Tulum’s downtown. With the increase in tourism, vacation rentals, small hotels and hostels, as well as restaurants and bars populate the town. Grocery stores, boutiques, bicycle rentals, gyms, tour operators, banks, ATMs, internet cafes, and various other commercial stores are available in Tulum Pueblo. Spanish Language Schools are popular in Tulum, including Meztli Spanish Language School and Jardin Espanol.
Since 13 March 2008, the town is head of the newly founded municipality (município), the ninth in Quintana Roo.

Two kilometers from the town center, the “hotel zone” of boutique hotels on the Tulum beach has grown to over 70 small hotels. Most of them are cabañas built in the traditional Maya style with thatched palm roofs though there are some more high end hotels as well. There are many new restaurants, particularly on the jungle side of the road, some of which have received significant praise in the international press. There are also a few beach clubs and public beaches. Inexpensive cabañas with hammocks are still available, but are rare. Most accommodations remain rustic as electricity in the “hotel zone” is either non-existent or is generated on site.

Tulum is one of the ten municipalities that make up the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It became one of the newest municipalities in the country when it was formed on March 13, 2008, when it was separated from Solidaridad Municipality.
Tulum is home to the Maya archaeological sites of Tulum, Muyil, Tankah and Cobá.

The municipality of Tulum borders the municipalities of Solidaridad to the north and Felipe Carrillo Puerto to the south, in the state of Quintana Roo. It also borders Chemax Municipality and Valladolid Municipality in the state of Yucatán on the northwest, and the Caribbean Sea on the east.

Like most of the Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum is entirely flat with a gentle slope towards the sea, so from west to east, the area never reaches a higher altitude than 25 metres (82 ft) above sea level. The municipality is 5 metres (16 ft) above sea level on average.
Like the rest of the peninsula’s surface the land has a limestone base that does not allow the formation of surface water flows such as rivers and streams; the water instead flows in underground rivers that sometimes rise to the surface in the cenotes. Lakes and cenotes are the major bodies of water in the municipality.

The municipality consists of 170 populated localities, plus an additional 224 unpopulated localities, and includes part of a biosphere reserve Sian Kaan

Tulum has 28,263 inhabitants according to the 2010 census, a figure that has more than doubled in the last five years. There is an additional 15,000 to 20,000 people living and working in Tulum as part of its floating population. That number rises and falls with the tourist season and is not reflected in the census figures.

Tulum (Spanish pronunciation: [tu’lum], Yucatec: Tulu’um) is the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city serving as a major port for Cobá. The ruins are situated on 12-meter (39 ft) tall cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Maya; it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. Old World diseases brought by the Spanish settlers appear to have been the cause of its demise.[citation needed] One of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites, Tulum is today a popular site for tourists.

The Maya site may formerly have been known by the name Zama, meaning City of Dawn, because it faces the sunrise. Tulum stands on a bluff facing east towards the Caribbean Sea. Tulúm is also the Yucatan Mayan word for fence, wall or trench, and the walls surrounding the site allowed the Tulum fort to be defended against invasions. Tulum had access to both land and sea trade routes, making it an important trade hub, especially for obsidian. From numerous depictions in murals and other works around the site, Tulum appears to have been an important site for the worship of the Diving or Descending god. Tulum had an estimated population of 1,000 to 1,600 inhabitants.
Tulum was first mentioned by Juan Díaz, a member of Juan de Grijalva’s Spanish expedition of 1518, the first Europeans to spot Tulum. The first detailed description of the ruins was published by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood in 1843 in the book Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. As they arrived from the sea, Stephens and Catherwood first saw a tall building that impressed them greatly, most likely the great Castillo of the site. They made accurate maps of the site’s walls, and Catherwood made sketches of the Castillo and several other buildings. Stephens and Catherwood also reported an early classic stele at the site, with an inscribed date of AD 564 (now in the British Museum’s collection), which is interpreted to mean that it was most likely built elsewhere and brought to Tulum to be reused.

For Additional Information go to

The average Tulum Teperature and rainfall year round are:

Tulum Temp Year Round

Getting Around

  • Taxis are an inexpensive way to get around but for the most part, Tulum ‘Pueblo’ is so small that walking is a simple. Taxis from ‘Pueblo’ to the coast is ~$70 to 90 MXN. It is advisable to either take a taxi or rent a bike when traveling between the ‘Pueblo’ and the beach, as the walk is rather long, dusty and unattractive.
  • Bikes are available for rent from Iguana Bikes in Tulum ‘Pueblo.’ $150 to 250 MXN for 24 hours. Bikes are a convenient way to get around town and to/from cenotes and the beach. Please be careful when riding a bike on the highway. Bring a headlamp/flashlight if biking at night.
  • Enter Bikes rents bikes for 50MXN/24 hours (40MXN if return in the same day). This shop is located in the main street, close to the Adventist Church (direction south). Prices are from September 2015.
  • There seems to be a public bus which leaves Tulum Pueblo around 9:00 A.M. and 12:00 noon and goes to the beach and ruins, and returns from there at 12:15 P.M. and 5:00 P.M. Ticket prices should be around $10 MXN one way.
  • A collectivo (shared van) leaves from tulum pueblo to the beach regularly during the day (maybe at the top of the hour) picking passengers near Parque Colonial Croc 4 blocks south of the main road. Cost is about $10 mxn. Prepared to be seated very close to other passengers. Confirm departure location with nearby restaurant/shop workers.
  • Tulum Sports Festival – A sports event held annually at Tulum Beach and is open registration. Fun and sports for everyone with live music, beach volleyball, paddle boards, kayaks, swimming, kite boarding and more. A great weekend of fun activities to celebrate the beauty of the beach and wind. There’s something for everyone!
  • Kitesurfing
  • Extreme Control The original Kiteboarding school of Tulum, teaching since 2005 with bilingual IKO certified instructors to all levels. Also offering Diving courses and fun dives, Paddleboarding rentals and tours. Extreme Control headquarters are located on the main Tulum public beach in front of Hotel Playa Esperanza and beside El Paraiso Beach Club.
  • Ocean Pro Kite – kiteboarding school located on Tulum beach. It provides kitesurf lessons following the most professional and safest method of teaching, known as IKO (International Kitesurfing Organisation). From a one-hour lesson to “ready to go” packages.
  • Snorkeling – There are great guided snorkel tours from the public beach near the ruins, which cost 200 pesos each in Nov 2009 and lasted about two hours.
  • Scuba Diving – Scuba diving in the Cenotes around Tulum is an experience not to be missed. There are multiple dive operators based in Tulum that to both Cenote and ocean dives.
  • La Calypso Dive Center – Professional, family size dive center, PADI certified instructors and dive masters, highly enthusiastic and with great knowledge of the various cenotes. Snorkeling tours, Cavern diving (cenote diving), PADI courses, Discover Scuba Diving, reef diving. As they almost only manage private groups, they don’t have a dive shop open to the public so bookings and information have to be done by email or phone (00521) 984 106 80 02 or (00521) 984 100 73 85
  • You can also take your own self guided tour of the reefs right off the beach from the Hotel Zone. Tulum sits on the second largest barrier reef in the world. Be sure to take a tour yourself, or a guided tour of this fantastic reef system. You will be sure to see over 30 species of fish and some spectacular Coral as well. If you must take a guided tour, the cheapest in the area is located at Zamas Hotel. Zamas is located about 10 establishments in from the beginning of the hotel zone.
  • Hidden Worlds Cenotes Park – Offering unique jungle adventures to suit everyone, Hidden Worlds is situated on the most extensive system of underwater caves and caverns on Earth. The park is home to some of the most incredible cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula, as featured in the critically acclaimed 2001 IMAX movie Journey Into Amazing Cavesand the 2007 BBC Planet Earth series.
  • Maya Spa – Holistic spa specializing in Mayan treatments.
  • Aguaclara project: Diving, Snorkeling & Eco tours Outstanding tours to the natural surrounding of Tulum in very small groups with great personal service address=”Calle Luna poniente MZa 2 lot 1 loc 2″ directions=”two blocks back from Cancha maya” phone=”984 105 40 47″ url=”” hours=”” price=”” lat=”” long=””>


In much of the Yucatan, rainwater collects in a system of underground caves and tunnels. Where these tunnels reach the surface is known as a cenote (pronounced seh-NOH-teh). Cenotes usually allow swimming and diving, and at some you can rent related equipment. They contain fresh water, which is often cool since they are shaded in most cases. Cenotes allow close-up access to fauna such as fish, turtles, and in some cases, bats. Some cenotes are mainly enclosed with only small openings on the surface and a larger above-water cavernous area that extends under the rock covering. Others are more open and allow more natural light.

  • El Gran Cenote. Admission: $150 MXN (September 2015). This is the most popular cenote (and therefore the most crowded) in Tulum. A good combination of a deep, cavernous portion, a couple of shallow open-air portions and ample wooden decking with stairs down to the water at several entrance points. This is recommended for first-time cenote-goers. Snorkelling gear is available for rent although prices are a bit steep. As of June 2014 prices were $80 MXN for snorkel and mask rental (snorkels appeard to be non-valved), $30 MXN to rent a locker to store your bags, $50 MXN to rent a life vest and $250 MXN to buy a waterproof camera.
  • Casa Cenote, in TanKah III Bay is a magic spot. Here the Cenote goes underground some 100 yards before the beach, only to emerge as an ‘underwater’ water spring about 20 yards of the beach, right in the ocean. Must see. Tanka III Bay is just over 7 kilometers (5 miles) north of the intersection to the ruins. Take a cab. Great places to eat and stay or scuba too. Admission: about 25 pesos. Extra charge to rent a snorkel or kayak.
  • Cenote Calavera. Admission: $100 MXN (September 2015). This is named “calavera” or “skull” because the entrance has one circular opening of about 9 meters in diameter into which one can jump or descend down a ladder, plus two smaller openings of about 1 meter in diameter. The cenote is mostly enclosed and only partially lit by daylight – there is a large cavernous area that is home to many bats.
  • Cenotes Cristal and Escondido. $120 MXN buys admission to both (200MXN if you have diving equipment). These two cenotes are across the highway from each other, 3km south of the beginning of the Pueblo. Both are open-air, relatively shallow water, and unlikely to be crowded. Cristal has a diving platform about 3 meters above the surface of the water. The shape of the cenote is semi-round. Escondido is longer and contains an interesting floor of algae-covered rock and wood. Many fish eat the algae off the surfaces. There are small islands around which one can swim, and flexible straw-like tree roots jut into the water. Escondido is a 10-minute walk or a 2-minute bicycle ride down a bumpy dirt road from the entrance gate to the highway.
  • Dos Ojos Cenote. $150 MXN for entrance only, as of May 27,2013 (good if you bring your own equipment and are ready to walk 3km to the cenote). 300 pesos for a guide (this price may not be up to date), ride to the cenote, snorkel equipment, lamp, and wetsuit if you want. Set aside around 2 or 3 hours total.
  • For more Cenotes Info go to: Cenotes of the Yucatán


If staying for more than just a couple of days, you may want to experience taking some Spanish lessons at the beach or at the Spanish school.

  • El Camino Tulum – Spanish lessons in one, and two week intensive sessions, six week – three days a week classes and private instruction.
  • Meztli Spanish Language School Tulum – Meztli features morning yoga classes before their Spanish lessons begin. Fresh air classrooms and emphasis on learning through interactive lessons.
  • Pink Iguana – Offers lessons to corporate clients only.
  • Instituto Chac-Mool Tulum – Also, in Tulum is Instituto Chac-Mool Spanish School offering Spanish immersion classes year round. Classes may be as private lessons or studying with a peer group that the school arranges based on your starting level of Spanish.


Markets catering mainly to the bus loads of tourists are situated on the road leading to the entrance of the archaeological site.

There are also markets in town on 307 in the main stretch of town. Many cater to tourists however be sure to give them a look anyway. There are a lot of beautiful hand crafted Mexican pottery and fabrics. If you turn off of 307 and vere into town away from the main strip you can discover tons of tiny establishments and get a feel for the truly sleepy town of Tulum.


  • Check out Mezzanine on the cliffs (only 40 feet high but nice) overlooking Playa Paraiso. Superb Thai food and great ambiance and a super view. They even make decent drinks too and have good shows on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • For the budget minded, try Pollo Bronco in Tulum ‘Pueblo’. Pollo Bronco and Pollo Asada both offer chicken that is roasted to perfection that can be ordered by the 1/4, 1/2, and whole.
  • It should be noted that most of the restaurants in town are infinitely cheaper than those at the resorts. Most places, with the exception of the italian and japanese restaurants feature entrees for well under 100 pesos, or 10USD. Don Cafetos features authentic mexican and is one of the most popular restaurants on the strip. There are countless little cafes and establishments to get a great bite to eat for cheap.
  • There are not too many restaurant options on the beach, and the ones that are operational are quite expensive.
  • If you want non perishable items, grab some snacks to supplement your meals at the Super San Francisco Food Mart. You can buy a cooler here which is great for having cold drinks on the beach each day. Just pick up ice in the morning and the cooler will stay cold until night time. This supermarket however is run by locals and hardly anyone speaks english, so if you don’t know spanish, be prepared to shop around to find what you need.
  • Oscar & Lalo Restaurant, Bar & Grill (Oscar y Lalo), Carretera Federal 307 (Playa Del Carmen-Tulum KM. 241), (984) 115-9965, “Oscar & Lalo Restaurant – Bar – Grill Welcomes you! We have been serving excellent Specialty Seafood, Mexican and Yucatecan Cuisine since 1984. Have a look at our site, browse our menu, and discover that Oscar & Lalos is your dining destination in the Riviera Maya. Come and enjoy our beautiful tropical Jungle Garden, have a glass of wine or your favorite cocktail, and taste the delicious fresh Seafood, Mexican and Yucatecan Cuisine that has made us the pride of the Riviera Maya!
  • El Camello, (On the main road in the southern outskirts of the pueblo). “The Camel” has great (and cheap) seafood! Unpretentious but packed with locals as well as tourists. Take a cab to get there unless you are in the southern part of town.
  • Cetli, Polar at Orion, 5-10pm. Probably the best food in town. Somewhat expensive but well worth it. The young chef-owner Claudia has been trained at Mexico City’s premier culinary academy. Unfortunately few tourists ever notice this place since it’s not on the main strip.
  • El Camello Jr, (on the east side of the main road in the southern outskirts of town). Great (and cheap) seafood. This place was crowded (mainly by locals) every time we visited (March 2012).
  • La Picadita Veracruzana, (Very nice and cheap place located on the opposite of the ADO busstation, corner jupiter street). local food, cheap and delicious.The service is warmly and friendly.Probably the best (and cheapest) enchiladas in town.
  • El Tábano, Carretera Tulum, Boca Paila Km.7, 984 134 8725, Family warmth, exquisite taste, fresh and creative food prepared right in front of you.
  • Co.Conamor Restaurante (Vegetarian Healthy Restaurant), Road to the Beach (In front of Chedraui), 9848712600, 10:00-19:00. Healthy Vegetarian and Vegan Meals in an open chill environment. Super Foods, Home Made Bread, Germinated Seeds, Aloe Vera, Slow Food, Smoothies, Cold Press Juices and a Biodegradable Bulk Food Store. 12usd.
  • Canopia, Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila KM 7.5 (By the Yogashala hotel on the road to Punta Alen.), 8AM-10PM.Great juices, their organic, every day brunch menu is to die for. Lots of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options to choose from along with the nest eggs benedict you have ever tasted. Friendly service along with a relaxed atmosphere makes this restaurant true gem. They also serve lunch and dinner with an amazing and diverse menu.


Habana Cafe – If you’re craving a taste of Latin life with a touch of Cuban spice, the atmosphere at Habana Café in Tulum Pueblo will satisfy. Habana’s Cuban inspired design is permeated with beats from Latin-infused reggae, Son, Latin house and Merengue. The street level bar brings a style reminiscent of the elegance and opulence of “The Havana 50s” to Tulum. Upstairs in the Sky Bar The scene is even more impressive on the massive, rooftop bar. With its elaborate rooftop garden, 10 foot palm trees, a huge palapa bar, lanterns, and attractive bartenders, the Sky Bar may be the swankest place in Tulum for imbibing outdoors.

Also try a few other cool spots in Tulum that offer fun drink specials with a hip tropical flair:

  • Acabar offers live music and djs in a trendy atmosphere.
  • Teetotum offers weekend rooftop movies, a cool lounge and drink specials, try the Razzleberry Daiquiri!
  • Ak’iin offers weekend parties with live music or djs, no cover and drink specials on a beautiful stretch of beach.
  • Divino Paraiso, (Ave Tulum). On a Wednessday evening they have Salsa Lessons from 9 PM and DJ playing assorted mix of Reggae, Reggaeton, Bachata, Salsa, Merenge and Cumbia.

Cenotes The Sacred Waters of Riviera Maya

The underground river systems of the Yucatan flow beneath the entire peninsula. During the ice ages when the ocean levels were much lower than they are today, what was once a giant coral reef became exposed to the atmosphere and eventually became the Yucatan Peninsula. Massive cave systems were formed by gradual dissolving of the highly porous coral limestone. These caves are called “solution caves” because they were formed by the slightly acidic rainfall dissolving the alkaline limestone. Inside the caves the geological formations such as stalactites and stalagmites are a spectacular sight to see. Many of the caverns eventually collapsed and the sea levels rose partially or completely flooding the cave systems. The water table of the entire peninsula is filled with consists of seawater at sea level and freshwater ‘floating’ on top at varying depth depending on the distance from the sea. For instance, Cenote Zaci in Valladolid in the central Yucatan area is about 35 metres from ground level to the surface of the freshwater and probably another 30 metres below that would be the top of the saltwater layer.

It has been estimated that there are approximately 30,000 cenotes or exposed access points to these cavern and cave systems and thousands of miles of underwater cave passageways have already been explored and exploration continues in too many systems to count. Two of these cave systems have over 140 km of explored passages.

Cenotes are complexes of sinkholes and caves in the Karst geological landscape of the Yucatán. Some cenotes contain spectacular cave formations, while others are important archaeological sites, and several were considered sacred by the Mayans. A few are open to the public for swimming and diving. Of the estimated 30,000 cenotes, many of them unexplored, many are considered to be Mayan cultural and archaeological sites. Ancient fossilized remains of Camels, giant Jaguars and Mammoths are among the interesting archaeological finds in recent years. Most of these have been found by cave divers exploring underwater cave systems and some sites are now protected by INAH, the Mexican government archaeological and historical protection organisation.

Tour operators emphasize the sensitive nature of cenotes, and La Ruta de los Cenotes was first promoted as an ecotourism attraction that would offer sustainable development for the region. To promoters in Quintana Roo, it was a way to bring tourist revenue to a relatively forgotten and marginalized part of the Mayan Riviera. However, some Mexican environmentalists have criticized the construction of the eastern segment of the highway, both for the destruction of pristine forest lands and for the use of heavy equipment in sensitive areas.

Recently, experienced divers have discovered Maya artifacts upsteam of some of the sinkholes they explored dating back over 1,000 years. This has led them to conclude that the water table in this area was significantly lower at one time and the Maya inhabited the caverns which are now full of water. They also concluded that some of the sacrifices made, were to ask the spirits to lower the water table so that they could resume life in the caverns. They also believed that the Maya remained in the area for some time living above ground, while waiting on the waters to recede, before moving on.

For more on cenotes go to: Cenotes The Sacred Waters of Riviera Maya

Xelha and Xcaret

Xelha is only 15 from Tulum on highway 307. Xcaret is a 40 minute drive

Please visit their sites for more current detailed information. and

We Hope You Enjoy Your Stay .

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